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Wild birds

two swans Since Mary Oliver’s recent death, I have seen her famous beloved poem about the wild geese reposted all over the Internet.   I offer here a lovely 1921 poem about wild swans by Maine’s own Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). Here in Maine we know we have another month of winter, but we are starting to see more birds, a hopeful sign.

WILD SWANS

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.

And what did I see I had not seen before?

Only a question less or a question more;

Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.

Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,

House without air, I leave you and lock your door.

Wild swans, come over the town, come over

The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

 

 

 

 

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January 74th

 

I heard someone say the other day that it felt like January 74th.  I find January and February in Maine to be trying.  I don’t ski, my cold tolerance is definitely decreasing with age, and it makes me cross to wobble around on icy surfaces.  In that rather crabby vein, I offer a sour, wonderful poem by Amy Gerstler (copyright by the poet, of course).

 

A Severe Lack of Holiday Spirit

 

I dread the icy white concussion

of winter.  Each snowfall demands

panic, like a kidnapper’s hand

clapped over my chapped mouth.

Ice forms everywhere, a plague

of glass.  Christmas ornaments’

sickly tinkle makes my molars ache.

One pities the anemic sun

come January.  Trees go skeletal.

Children born in the chilly months

are apt to stammer.  People hit

the sauce in a big way all winter.

Amidst blizzards they wrestle

unsuccessfully with the dark comedy

of their lives, laughter trapped

in their frigid gizzards.  Meanwhile,

the mercury just plummets,

like a migrating duck blasted

out of the sky by some hunter

in a cap with fur earflaps.trees in snow apple

A new year

 

Painting by Rockwell Kent.

Here is a poem by Elder James Olson (American, 1909-1992).

 

December 1948

Pavane for the New Year

 

Soul, plucking the many strings

Of my limbs like puppet’s, make them dance,

Dance, dance, in somber joy,

That after all the sullen play

The old world falls, the new world forms.

 

A thought like music takes us now,

So like, that every soul must move,

Move in a most stately measure,

And souls and bodies tread in time

Till all the trembling towers fall down.

 

And now the stones arise again

Till all the world is built anew

And now in one accord like rhyme,

And we who wound the midnight clock

Hear the clock of morning chime.

Rockwell Kent snow ocean

BARE BRANCHES

Here in southern Maine we had an unusually snowy November.  Many of us didn’t have time to rake leaves before the snow came.  Here is a timely short poem by William Carlos Williams.

Warm holiday wishes to all.

 

WINTER TREES

 

All the complicated details

of the attiring and

the disattiring are completed!

A liquid moon

moves gently among

the long branches.

Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.

snowy branches

Letting Go

(“Fall Trees” c. 2018 by Alice Persons)

fall trees done

As wind and rain strip colorful leaves from the trees here in Maine, here is a timely poem by David McCann, who lives in Massachusetts.  David has two poetry collections from Moon Pie Press:  SAME BIRD and LOST AND FOUND.  Reprinted by permission; copyright 2016 by David McCann.

Detachment

She imagined each tree would have one leaf

that would be last, late November,

to give up to some indifferent gust,

or more simply at the end to gravity.

 

What prepares the leaf to fall is cold.

 

Temperature, a relative term;

the precipitous fall at night, more likely,

below a certain determinate level

that triggers a leaf’s detachment.

 

Study the leaf, she would say.

 

What it learns

as the wind sighs fly away,

take as a token of wisdom.

 

 

The Road Taken

road in fallThis is a road in Maine (photographer unknown) – no Photoshopping is required in this spectacular season.

Here is a fall poem by two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) who wrote sophisticated “form” poetry almost exclusively. He also said, “Write what you know.  That should leave you with a lot of free time.”

Absent-Minded Professor

This lonely figure of not much fun

Strayed out of folklore fifteen years ago

Forever.  Now on an autumn afternoon,

While the leaves drift past the office window,

His bright replacement, present-minded, stays

At the desk correcting papers, nor even grieves

For the silly scholar of the bad old days,

who’d burn the papers and correct the leaves.

 

Fall in England (not New England, for a change)

John Clare (1793-1864), the son of a farm laborer, was a fine Romantic poet known for his celebration of the English countryside.

 

Here is a timely Clare poem.

Autumn

The thistledown’s flying, though the winds are all still,
On the green grass now lying, now mounting the hill,
The spring from the fountain now boils like a pot;
Through stones past the counting it bubbles red-hot.

The ground parched and cracked is like overbaked bread,
The greensward all wracked is, bents dried up and dead.
The fallow fields glitter like water indeed,
And gossamers twitter, flung from weed unto weed.

Hill-tops like hot iron glitter bright in the sun,
And the rivers we’re eying burn to gold as they run;
Burning hot is the ground, liquid gold is the air;
Whoever looks round sees Eternity there.